Audaxers / Randonneurs - Share your knowledge and experiences!

Thanks for this.

The reason I’m more dead on the bike than usual is that I’m on a diet generally (injuries and life stresses prior to COVID made me balloon). I’ve had to adjust things around so that pre, during, and post workout nutrition are properly planned or fueled. If not, I tend to have a bad time. As I’ve been dialing things in, less to no dead days on the bike in the past 2 weeks which is good. I’m also finding that I don’t need highly carbed drinks to do the session; solid food and a skratch like hydration drink work best. Maybe its good luck within bad that I’ve had to be a bit more focused on nutrition as of late.

Thanks for the input! Its good to have these perspectives so I know how to think of things going forward.

Like Alex, I was worried about sleep deprivation before the event and it remains one of my biggest concerns about ultra racing.
I would say, this is very personal, and I am not sure how trainable the ability to tolerate sleep deprivation is. So you really have to find out what works through experimentation. I think that most people find, though, that they can ride through one night without too much problem, but its what happens at the end of the following day that’s worth planning.
Some folks find that even a 10 minute power nap can be a massive boost, others survive on two hours sleep per night for several days.
Finally, the importance of managing your mental state is (for me) the #1 performance factor. If you are mentally prepared, you can ready yourself for a night without sleep, lower the pace, change clothes and food intake to adjust, and keep riding. If you are mentally and physically tired after a long day, its super-tough to commit to a night on the bike.

With regards to nutrition (and weight loss/control) , the Steve Neal thread on here might be of interest plus the Faster podcasts by Flo with Steve Neal (plus the one with Bob ?)

Their take is basically to increase fat metabolism at higher and higher percentages of %FTP helping to fuel long ultra efforts without the need to gorge on sugars and risk GI issues etc…

Yep I also set 200, 300, 400 and 600 all time PRs getting to Brest (into a headwind as well!)
Paid for it/took it easier on the way back though.

This is essentially what I was saying, however the point I was making is that he might be surprised just how much food is needed for say a 400, even when taking it easy. Obviously you don’t have to take in every calorie you burn, but you’re burning a LOT of calories in a day. I also have through experience found that my performance drops off much less when fueling a lot, RPE is reduced etc etc just like a harder shorter session. It’s easy to take your eye off the ball and eat/drink less than maybe needed because you’re going ok, feeling ok etc - then either the wheels fall off and you’re in crisis management mode, or you stop at a control or something and eat and drink loads and suddenly realise you’ve got an extra gear back. Indeed, I think the two limiters might be fueling/hydration and sleep, rather than muscular fatigue (at the level of watts we’re generally pushing)

RE sleep, I don’t believe sleep deprivation is trainable - performing ‘acceptably’ on less sleep than normal may be. If you’ve not read ‘the science of sleep’ it’s a great book going into detail on this.

The answer to my sleep approach is I’ve done multiple 600s, and most of them have been terrible on day 2. I spent ages trying to work out the answer, and found it last minute. My qualifying 600 of 2019 I chose to travel light and sleep at the control @ 380k. The ‘dorm’ was a not very dark room with a bunch of people coming in and out, noisy airbeds that creaked every time anyone moved etc etc. I laid there for maybe 2 hours getting perhaps a few microsleeps, until someone tripped over the airbed I was on and kicked the plug out! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: at that point I gave up and hit the road…

…Day 2 was an absolute struggle. I was barely moving, felt as bad as before I’d stopped if not worse. Walked a lot of hills, struggled 100% of the day and finished feeling absolutely empty. At that point I told myself if I wanted to go to PBP I’d have to sort this out, as finishing a 600 feeling like this as I’d done most times before was one thing, but having to do another 600 with this as a staring point was another.

I ended up doing another 600, this time carrying a larger saddle bag with bivvy bag, air matress, air pillow and a hooded down gilet. I found a field, unrolled it all and got in, wearing all my clothes and arm/leg warmers and was fairly toasty. I had a decent 3.5 hours sleep and woke up feeling good - this continued through the day (although some hills were still a struggle!) but I finished feeling like I could still ride. This was the plan for PBP.

In the end I carried the same kit for PBP, but it was much colder. My plan was to have 3 hours each night on the grass in a quiet corner at a control, field or similar (save time queuing for a bed, plus less likely to be disturbed. It worked ok except for being much colder on PBP than the UK summer! Luckily I’d brought a space blanket which helped to increase the warmth, but it was touch and go tbh

I did pay for a bed at Villaines with 200k to go and got probably the best sleep of the ride, this was mainly as my knee was hurting too much to continue and I wanted to rest it/let the painkillers kick in! I finished feeling decent so I guess the strategy worked.

Hope that helps/wasn’t too boring! :smiley:


Thanks, @alexgold123 - really interesting and useful.
Having experimented a bit now, Alex, would you consider riding through the night? How long is the longest distance/time you’d think it was sensible to ride for non-stop?

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Not at all! These experiences are really valuable. I would like to see more discussion of long distance cycling on this forum generally since its a great place to learn about cycling.


HI Greg, I’ve ridden through the night a few times, night riding is one of my favourite things to do (once I got proper lights!) On PBP I was generally going ~2x the pace of most in the dark, especially on the downhills due to being so comfortable in the dark.

One of my favourite rides was a midnight start, riding London to Bristol (ish) and back for a 400. I think I rode for 5 hours without being passed by a car! I did suffer towards the end though, as despite plans for sleep in the afternoon/evening beforehand I’d not slept much before the start.

I generally find I can complete a 400 on no sleep, they’re often 410-420 in reality but that’s about as far as I’d ride in one hit. On a 600 I generally aim for 360-380 before a stop, that’s generally when I start falling asleep on the bike anyway.

PBP my general plan was stop for 4 hours somewhere around midnight-1am, and try and get 3 hours sleep in there. As you say, some can do half an hour and feel fine, but I know I am SO much slower it’s worth ‘losing’ the time sleeping. The other thing is that sleep deprivation is really bad for you, so I’m trying to minimise it on rides, and minimise the number of rides I need to do with little sleep as I have a hunch it’s like concussions (i.e. the more often and harder you get ‘hit’, the more damage you do to your brain.)


Is it too early to start a ‘PBP in 2023’ thread? :slight_smile:
I’m becoming more interested in longer rides and events, and targeting PBP is a very attractive goal for me. I’ve done some very long rides (everesting), but many long self-supported rides, so I need to get that aspect more figured out as well. I think a more appropriate bike for these rides would be helpful as well - room for fenders, wider tires, etc. I’m think something in the ‘all road’ or light duty gravel could be a good all-rounder.


This can be that thread :slight_smile:

I’m hopefully going to target LEL for next year but I want to see if I can nail the consistency first before I set any larger goals. But if I do go down that route, I’d want to do PBP later on too.

Hopefully this thread can generate some good knowledge and experiences for all of us to benefit from.

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Hi everyone,

I thrust myself into the audax/rando world in 2017 after I signed up to race the TCR. A few years before, I rode from Manchester to London and that was the start of my addiction to long-distance riding. Throughout my sporting life, I’ve realised I’m not “punchy” enough to be super quick, but I have incredible endurance. I used to do a lot of long-distance running and I was the same then.

Long story short, I never finished TCR but in my training I managed my first SR series and met so many wonderful people who I still bump into on rides. The audax community is just amazing.

Anyway, after TCR I fell out with my bike for a few months but managed to pick it up again and get myself back into it in a big way. I signed up for PBP and completed it last year (albeit missing a stamp at St Nick’s - the secret control and therefore invalidating my ride but I don’t care, I know I did it and I have the gpx files to prove it!).

Jumped back on the pony when I got back and completed my first Randonneur Round the Year in January 2020 (lucky!). I think that’s one of my greatest achievements on the bike. I did some horrible rides in those 12 months but to be rewarded at the end of it felt really good, like I’d overcome so many hurdles month by month.

Post-Rona, I want to do some touring, more chilled out audaxes without an agenda or target for a little while but also really test my efficiency. During one of the AUK Zoom talks that I hosted, Jasmijn Muller suggested concentrating on my speed so that I can sleep for longer on some of the longer distance events. So for PBP 2023, I will be able to rest more if I can ride quicker. I finished in ample time (80:48 on the 84hr wave) so maybe next time I will aim for the 80 hour wave.

I also want to do LEL next year which will be my longest event ever in what will probably be rubbish British weather! So I need all the help I can get.

I’m doing a lot of my training with my friend @Janedennyson on Trainer Road. We’ve done some riding together but have become a lot closer the last few months since PBP and the lockdown. I think we have similar targets and we’ve matched our training plans so we can do the group workouts together, which I find so, so helpful especially when they’re stabby efforts! We’re also really well-matched in terms of FTP which I hope translates on the road when we eventually ride together :sweat_smile:

I think that’s all from me really. I’m really keen to get more women involved in audax and long-distance riding and I think it is happening gradually which is really great. The thing with long-distance stuff is it always sounds bonkers to say you’re going to ride that many kilometres but then if you just add 10km on to every long ride you do, you soon get there. It’s easy for it to happen by accident which is one of the things I love about it.

I’m interested to know how people are ultilising TR for audax too by the way! Not sure I have it 100% right but I think it’s nearly there.


Mind if I ask what happened? TCR looks amazing but…daunting.

I think if it wasn’t so hot (remember the Lucifer heatwave through Europe?), I’d have finished but the temperatures were unbearable - for me at least. Plenty of people finished of course but I couldn’t handle it. There’s a lot to be said for heat acclimation!

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Guess I need to cycle in a sauna for 24 hours now huh. @Nate_Pearson wanna let me train in yours post COVID?


Its too small I think :sob:

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I’ve recently joined TR and for the purpose of Audaxes in 2021
I’ve sent a support request with what I see so far:

a) There’s no Audax on the Race Events for Calendar (only Gran Fondo)
b) > 24 hours gives a negative TSS Score (logged bug with Support)
c) Does the plan cater for these longer, slower, (solo) events?
d) Can the Events support Riding Time & Elapsed Time? e.g. 8 hours ride for 200km but 10 hours elapsed

David Cowie
Kingston Wheelers CC

Can only talk about n=1, and events up to 300km (well 275km). I picked Gran Fondo. I was supposed to do the Dirty Reiver 200 this year, and was happy to do the same (via plan builder)

A couple of years ago I successfully followed Sustained Power Build → Century Speciality entirely indoors following a crash and completed a 200km Audax well within time limits.

And a final for what it’s worth, I’m mulling over PBP or LEL in coming years and would have no problem following a similar plan.

Regarding events, I would suggest it doesn’t really matter? They build in the recovery week afterwards to A and B events (if I recall correctly - all of mine got cancelled this year). The event TSS doesn’t change the plan before or after as far as I’m aware. It just gives you the predicted TSS - once you do the event it takes actual.

Are you this high maintenance in all aspects of your life? Bet you’ll be fun to ride next to for 10+ hours.

Sarcasm aside, there are plenty of Audax riders successfully using TR. Pick Gran Fondo and put your big event (LEL or whatever) in as a multi-day stage race. Manually enter TSS numbers rather than getting mad. Just multiply 50 or 60 by the number of hours of actual riding assuming a 20-25 KPH pace.

One head’s up… When you actually start doing your 200K/300K/400K/600K Series (B Events), you’ll likely not be doing much mid-week training of consequence. Instead you’ll be doing a crap ton of Zone 1 and 2 riding aka rest and recovery as you prep for the next event in the Series.


I think expecting any off the shelf training plan to cater for audax is a big ask - it’s a niche of a niche, and half the people I know that do audaxes don’t even really formally ‘train’! :smiley:

I think there’s still good value in base/build/speciality, but likely highly modified from the standard ‘race for an hour or two’ plans.

Also something Mark Beaumont said in a recent GCN video clicked for me, reverse periodisation is better for long distance rides - hard and fast (probably indoors) in the winter, then building up time/distance on outdoor rides for the season.


Funny, two 200+ mile gravel races are my A events for 2021 and this is my exact plan. Starting build in a week, then sweet spot, then a mix of SS and big Z2 rides.

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I add multi day events as a stage race in plan builder, with long stages!
I used this training up for and riding/racing Transalba and PBP last year and it worked well.